There's nothing worse than having your long-awaited family dinner at a nice restaurant ruined by a gaggle of rowdy kids… unless they're your own kids, of course. Lucky for most parents, Cape Town restaurants generally tend to be very relaxed and laid-back. Many are welcoming to children, too, especially in the warm summer months when their outdoor areas become a hangout for scurrying kids. Some spots, however, are even more welcoming than others, going out of their way to make kids feel at home with food and fun galore. Popular chain restaurants such as Col’Cacchio are particularly family-friendly: kids are given dough to cut into shapes and even have baked. But independent restaurants and cafés also cater to families. The five I’ve sought out below have added perks along the lines of roomy playgrounds, cupcake-decorating classes, story-time sessions and even painting lessons. Best of all, they have solid menus that culinary aficionados old and young alike can enjoy. (Baby cappuccino, anyone?)
What kids don't enjoy getting their hands dirty? At Clay Café in Hout Bay, you'll probably want to join them when you see the fun they're having daubing ceramics in bright, messy colors. Order yourself a cappuccino, then join the kids in painting a pair of matching dad-and-son duckies.
This chic Noordhoek bistro overlooks a playground, so you can tuck in to a gorgonzola burger while keeping a watchful eye on your kids as they have a go at the jungle gym. Café Roux is also pet-friendly, meaning there's bound to be a playful pooch or two to distract the little ones.
This Kloof Street café is one of Cape Town's most beloved eateries, with a lovely garden, shabby-chic décor, and delicious menu of hearty comfort foods. It's also one of its most kid-friendly restaurants: staff lead the kids in pizza-making, cupcake-decorating, and other fun activities (for a small fee), and there's even a nightly story-time session.
Foodbarn Bakery & Deli
A stylish barn? It's not an oxymoron—rather, it's the fabulous Foodbarn restaurant in the beachside village of Noordhoek. Thanks to its celebrated French chef Franck Dangereux, the menu is full of refined Gallic favorites, but the ambience is anything but stuffy: come sans shoes if you like, and let your kids run loose in the playground off the patio.
Deer Park Café
Anyone with kids knows that space is of utmost importance, and Deer Park Café, set against the slopes of Table Mountain, delivers, both inside and out. The open dining room has plenty of room for strollers and scampering tots. On a nice day, the fenced-in playground is even better for free-roaming kids. The child-friendly menu is a hit, too: Order your toddler a babychino (foamed milk with sprinkles).